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Menace of Guatemala (Ideal What-Nots series)


Published 1934


Sensationalist "documentary" on the Agua area of Guatemala, where people live in the shadow of a volcano.


Run time 8:51
Producer Ideal Pictures Corp.
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

No synopsis in Educational Film Guides.
Ken Smith reports: A patronizing narrator snickers while we see footage of "semi-barbarous" Guatemalans fishing, weaving, hauling clay pots on giant backpacks ("human pack animals" and "two-legged mules," the narrator chuckles), and engaging in "pagan" dances. The menace, by the way, is Agua, the volcano. Good (if gritty) footage of villagers running in terror while walls collapse around them.

Guatemala weaving backpacking trekking dance and dancing fear terror disasters earthquakes Central America Latin America South America safety
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Reviews

Reviewer: Nineveh6 - - July 24, 2011
Subject: I disagree
I disagree about the narrator. He doesn't sound nearly as patronizing as others of his day. I heard a lot of appreciation for the people in his descriptions. He even goes so far as to say "our" culture, that is to say the United States in the 1930s, could learn a thing or two from them.

Coming from a place where some of the physical hardships of life had been overcome, he is describing a people whose way of life was (and in many ways remains to this day) very hard. There is an appropriate sadness in his voice, sorrow for these people and their plight. Yes, it sounds patronizing to our ears, but he's not viewing them as less than human, as many did then. I hear a lot of respect for the people in his tone, and also a lot of thankfulness for the fact that he doesn't have to live such a hard life. I hear a subtext in which he is chiding his audience, asking "Faced with this much difficulty, would you do as well as they have? I don't think so."
Reviewer: pheret - - January 12, 2008
Subject: menace of guatemala
i agree regarding turn off the narrorator and i guess it's about the volcano, but it is really a good view of the life of the indios at that time.

i am amazed that there wasn't more about the beauty of their woolwork! i have seen some of the products and they really are lovely!

but, i have to say it, what a pig of a narrator. bleah, colonial white man ignorance! :(
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - December 23, 2003
Subject: Narrated by Smarmy Man
This 30s travelogue about Guatemala features a smarmy narrator who describes some of the culture of the local natives while adding lots of insensitive jokes to the proceedings. The actual film footage has historical value, but you want to slap that narrator after awhile.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - November 9, 2003
Subject: Just what IS the menace we're talking about here?
Pretty strange film which showcases on the people of guatemala. Apparently the 'meance' is the big Volcano hovering over them, but judging by the patronizing narration, you'd have a hard time thinking otherwise. Showing their way of life and basically calling them savages isn't going to win them points. But nevertheless, if you turn off the sound, this film does have remarkable cinematography of Guatamala.
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